Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When Rejected, Remember Isaac Newton!

I am astounded. I actually have something in common with Sir Isaac Newton. If you’re a writer, maybe you do, too.

Awhileback, I mentioned that I had finally finished a draft of a novel involving time travel. Partially because of that, I’ve been attempting to learn more about the scientific view of time—including theories as to whether time travel might actually be possible.  After much study, I have come to my own conclusion that it is not possible…for me to comprehend physics.

As to whether time travel is possible, I have no idea. I don’t understand a word the physics writers are saying, no matter how basic they get. In fact, I even resorted to Gary Moring’s The Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Einstein. You guessed it. I can’t understand it.

Occasionally, though, Moring includes a few historical or biographical tidbits, at which point I feel very reassured that I can at least still read.

One of these asides was about Sir Isaac Newton and his book, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, also known as Principia.  Moring said, “Most physicists agree that this work by Isaac Newton is the single most significant book ever written about physics. In Principia, Newton brought together the knowledge about physics that had been discovered so far and expanded it. He combined and synthesized ideas that would remain unchanged for almost 300 years. Even then, the alterations made to his theories would be minimal” (p. 45).

For me, this wasn’t the most amazing part. What surprised and encouraged me was this: “Newton decided to publish his first work in the area of optics. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well received by his fellow scientists. He became very depressed and was reluctant to publish anything else. If his friend Edmond Halley hadn’t intervened, the Principia would never have been written. Even so, it took Newton 20 years to put all his notes together and get the book published” (p. 45).

If you’re a writer, I’m betting you can identify with some part of this. Becoming dejected after rejection—or you’ve finally gotten published and those Amazon reviewers just aren’t kind. Taking years and years even to manage to write anything. Wondering all the while why you’re bothering, because no one is going to care, anyway.

And the importance of friends! I started to list the friends and family members who have gotten me going again when I've decided to throw in the towel, but the list was growing quite lengthy, and I was afraid I would leave someone out. If you're reading this post, you're probably one of them. I can never thank you enough!

Somehow I find it encouraging that even a genius who had so much to give the world could go through the same discouragement we all do. Our day is coming!